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The usage of mobile phones has been sky-rocketing since 2007 and continues to play a major role in our personal and work lives. In the future, will our usage continue to grow? The answer to that question is still unknown. But we do know how and why mobile is so important in the present day. On this episode of IT Visionaries, we chatted with Victor Oliveros, the Senior Director of Product Management at Salesforce, who focuses on leading a product team that works specifically on the Salesforce mobile app. Victor touches on many things including, how to launch a B2B app, the implementations that go into mobile voice technology, and the importance of the CIO in tech companies.
Best Advice: “The one question that we always ask on the mobile team is, ‘Is the feature we’re building an order of magnitude better than how people used to do this thing?’ Users will not stop doing things the old way unless we provide something much better. Get to know your users. At the end of the day, there’s a human behind every phone.”
- Mobile apps require the least amount of clicks to complete tasks
- Voice is challenging to implement, but the future of voice is bright
- CIOs have one of the most difficult jobs in tech
Victor’s start in tech
In the mid-nineties when he was young, Victor attended an MIT Media Lab online conference for about 3,000 kids. Victor and his brother participated by emailing other kids to talk about problems that their own countries were facing and how technology could help solve those problems. The media lab had auto-email translation technology (think early Google Translate), so Victor was able to learn about problems in other countries at an early age. From the conference, MIT chose 90 kids from the 3,000 to participate in a week-long program that allowed them to spend time with professors at MIT to look at emerging technologies. This was the seed that later led to Victor studying computer engineering in college and further becoming an iOS and Android developer.
Salesforce’s million-dollar hackathon
Victor personally doesn’t like hackathons due to the varying judging criteria, but he thought this Salesforce hackathon was different. He had heard good things about Salesforce and the chance to win one million dollars was a unique opportunity. Victor and two friends decided to join and they focused their idea on the problem of access to healthcare. They created an iPad app that used Salesforce as an API for people to be able to pick the correct healthcare plan based on their income level, family situation, and other criteria.
“We entered the hackathon with no expectations at all. And then the Sunday night before Dreamforce in 2013, we got an email from Salesforce saying, ‘Hey, show up at Dreamforce at 8:00 AM tomorrow…we then demoed it in front of Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, and a lot of the execs, and ended up actually winning first place and I was so grateful for the experience.”
Victor’s current role at Salesforce
Victor is currently a Senior Director, Product Management at Salesforce. His role is centered around leading a product team that works specifically on the Salesforce mobile app. He sees his role as being the voice for the customer for mobile. He also explained that his team needs to understand what their customer CIOs go through, what their stakeholders need from them, what their end users need from them, and then implement it into the Salesforce Platform.
CIOs have one of the most challenging jobs today because of how many different directions they’re getting pulled in.
“[CIOs] have so many stakeholders, they’re asked to build things, build mobile apps across multiple lines of businesses in their company, but at the same time, they need to tailor those experiences to that line of business across multiple countries. That’s hard in itself. But they’re also asked to make these mobile apps really easy to use so that they spend the minimum amount of time and money training their users on it.”
“The thing with phones is that it’s such a personal device. Users actually don’t differentiate between a work phone and a personal phone. It’s just one device. And so your B2B apps on their home screen sit right next to the Uber app, the Postmates app, which are seamless. You launch it, you enter your phone number and then you’re ready to go. Minimal setup and your users are ready to go. Because of that, users have the same expectations of B2B apps now.”
“We’re building a component called the business card scanner. And all that really does is it takes the phone’s camera, scans a business card and then creates a contact in Salesforce.”
Implementing voice for mobile
Voice technology is changing the mobile experience. Victor points out that voice technology is able to take unstructured data, like speech, and turn it into structured data that’s useful for work, business, and mapping it to Salesforce records and objects. However, there are definitely some real challenges when it comes to implementing voice technology. There are so many different languages, accents, and slang that developers have to solve for that the thought of it can be quite overwhelming.
On the other hand, Victor believes the upside of voice far outweighs the downside or challenges with implementing voice technology.
“What voice promises to do is take the effort away from the user. So just talk to Salesforce, just say, ‘Give us your record updates,’ and we will do the heavy lifting of updating the database records for you.”
“The magic with voice isn’t so much the speech to text because any app can do that and that’s actually provided for free by iOS and Android. The magic is taking speech to text to then map it to useful business data. And that’s really where the magic of Einstein Voice is. It looks at the Salesforce records that matter to you personally and maps your recording to those Salesforce records.”